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March 15, 2020

This week: The politics and literature of the coronavirus / Statistically efficient sex lives / Correcting the 1619 Project / Christopher Walken is too normal / Rethinking a Cold War hero

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. When Newspapers Were New, or, How Londoners Got Word of the Plague
By Alexis C. Madrigal | The Atlantic | March 2020
“Daniel Defoe’s novel about London’s 1665 plague can help us understand new media. No, really.”
Also see, from The Guardian: When binge-watching goes viral
Also see, from Politico: Andrew Cuomo, a Man Alone
Also see, from CNET: Online coronavirus scams are here, watch out for these red flags
Also see, from The Atlantic: The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’
Also see, from The Medium: The Secret Glee of Shy People and Plan-Cancelers in Coronatimes

2. I’m Not Feeling Good at All
By Jess Bergman | The Baffler | March 2020
“The perplexingly alienated women of recent American fiction”

3. Between the spreadsheets
By Alice Hines | 1843 :: The Economist | March 2020
“All these people are trying to optimise the process of acquiring a partner and maintaining a relationship. Optimisation grew out of attempts to solve real-world problems with mathematical techniques. People are most likely to have experienced the effects of optimisation in their workplace.”

4. I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me
By Leslie M. Harris | Politico | March 2020
“The paper’s series on slavery made avoidable mistakes. But the attacks from its critics are much more dangerous.”

5. How the coronavirus could limit shoe-leather reporting
By Jon Allsop | Columbia Journalism Review | March 2020
“Nor is access the only concern; like politicians, some journalists fly all around the country — and the world — meeting people, then returning to busy offices in big cities. We often think of ourselves as neutral observers standing outside the stories we cover. Viruses don’t respect such wishes.”

6. Is There a Bourbon Barrel Shortage on the Horizon?
By Lew Bryson | The Daily Beast | March 2020
“We chatted with loggers, wood scientists, and mills to see if the supply of barrels can keep up with bourbon demand”

7. The Secret History of a Cold War Mastermind
By Alex French | Wired | March 2020
“Gus Weiss, a shrewd intelligence insider, pulled off an audacious tech hack against the Soviets in the last century. Or did he?”

8. Christopher Walken Remains Endearingly Ordinary After All These Years
By Steve Garbarino | Interview | March 2020
“Once in a while, I go to a Christmas party or a birthday party. Nowadays, I try to eat right and get rest and stay healthy, so that if somebody offers me a job, I’m ready to go. I’m always kind of getting ready to go to work, even if I don’t have anything in particular to work on.”

9. Wild West Texas
By Christian Wallace | Boomtown :: Texas Monthly | January 2020
“The uneasy alliance between ranchers and the oil industry goes all the way back to the early wildcatting days in West Texas. But today, that relationship is more fraught than ever.”

10. ‘This is not how sequoias die. It’s supposed to stand for another 500 years’
By Patrick Greenfield | The Guardian | January 2020
“Giant sequoias were thought to be immune to insects, drought and wildfires. Then the unthinkable happened: trees started to die — and scientists began the search for answers”

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